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The sentence is: "I arrived NYC after 9 hour drive." What is the appropriate way to punctuate 9 hour? and whether it is "x-hour" vs "x-hours" or "x hour"?

(possible wrong tags)

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

It would be "I arrived [in] NYC after [a] 9-hour drive."

Note that some stylesheets (AP, for example) require numbers under 11 to be spelled out: "I arrived in NYC after a nine-hour drive."

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Note that the indefinite article a is actually required here. – JSBձոգչ Jan 21 '11 at 18:40
@JSBangs: I put the brackets around in and a not to mark them as optional, but to emphasize that I was including them in the OP's sentence, which I was quoting. – Robusto Jan 21 '11 at 18:45
@Robusto, I understood your intention. I was just clarifying for the benefit of the OP. – JSBձոգչ Jan 21 '11 at 19:02
@JSBangs: Ah, sorry for the intrusion then. A lot of people here are programmers and I worried that the brackets, which are used in documentation to indicate optional arguments to function signatures and the like, might be throwing people off. – Robusto Jan 21 '11 at 19:04
@ssakl: Not sure about British, but in American English one is expected to hyphenate compound adjectives. – Robusto Jan 21 '11 at 19:36

Compound adjectives are usually hyphenated. Thus, in this case, you should place a hyphen between nine and hour:

I arrived NYC after a nine-hour drive.

In reality, this hyphen is often dropped in compound adjectives involving number measurements, especially when the number is not written in words. Thus, one would be more likely to see 9 hour drive than 9-hour drive. However, it's never 9 hours drive. Thus:

  • I arrived NYC after a 9-hour drive.
  • I arrived NYC after driving for 9 hours.

Personally, I would always opt to write the number in words, for consistency's sake.

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